Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Dear Theodore {6 months}

12/23/2014 - Six months in heaven 

Dear Theodore,

Today you would be six months old here on earth. We are in Oregon for Christmas right now, and when your big brother Judah was exactly six months old we came for a visit here as well. I can so vividly picture him rolling around and doing his army crawl on Grandma Driver's living room floor, giggling and practicing his new clapping skill. He had his first major bump here too - he was sitting up and he toppled over and bumped his forehead on the fireplace. I remember feeling like such a terrible mother to have let that happen to my sweet little baby! What I would give for the chance to see you roll around on the floor at our feet and giggle and clap your hands... to kiss your "owies" better and wipe away your tears, my Theodore.

It is wonderful to be here with family, but there are so many reminders of what should have been. Judah is having the time of his life with his uncles and grandparents and you should be here too, meeting everyone and delighting them with your chubby smiles. The airplane ride here was so easy - Judah loved it. But I kept thinking... this should be more complicated. I should be carrying you in my Boba carrier while keeping track of hand luggage and Judah. I should be balancing you in my lap, nursing you during takeoff while I reassured Judah that the loud noise and funny feeling as we lifted off was normal. Missing you goes so deep, so wide, and so far. I feel it in every part of me, and in every part of my life. It's always with me, wherever I go... to Oregon, or to the ends of the earth.

On Sunday in church there was a sweet little baby accross the aisle, peacefully sleeping as the service went on. I ached to hold your sweet sleeping self. Judah was happy and singing along to the Christmas carols - there was a children's choir that sang a few songs, and he was dancing around and wanting to be up there with them. It was so cute, but my arms just felt so empty... I wondered what it would be like for you to be squirming in my arms, watching your big brother dance around and getting excited with him. And then, just as the congregational singing ended, Judah very uncharacteristically fell asleep in my arms. His face was squished up against me and he looked six months old again. He slept for the whole sermon and I couldn't tear my eyes from his precious face. God knew that I needed to hold a sleeping baby. It wasn't you asleep in my lap, but it helped.

The tiny flutters of your little brother or sister in my belly remind me that I was exactly this pregnant with you last Christmas... wondering what you would look like, and how you would change our family. I still wonder what you would look like now at six months old, and I'm still finding out how you've changed our family. This month I've found it hard to be content. I've found myself feeling like God is a puppet master in the sky... carelessly pulling on strings and jerking our lives around. How could he take our son?

But... how did He give His son? Knowing what would happen to him here on earth... knowing the frailty of human life, the hardships that he would suffer and the ultimate sacrifice he would make for all humanity. Still He sent Jesus to earth in the form of a tiny helpless baby, forsaking all of His infinite power, to suffer and to save the world. Christmas is the beginning of the still-unfolding story in which death itself gets killed. One day there will be no more death - no more perfect, sweet little babies will die an inexplicable death. This world is so broken, never have I felt it more than I do now. But no matter how wrong and disjointed and unbearable this world seems... one day, all will be set right. We will see you again, my son. Because God gave His son.

"Bless all the dear children in thy tender care
And take us to heaven to live with Thee there"

Six months ago today you were born into our arms for a few short hours, though your soul was in heaven. You were already in God's tender care. We love you, Theodore, and we miss you so much this Christmas. Sleep in heavenly peace, my sweet baby.

Love,
Momma, Papa, Judah, and Baby #3



Sunday, November 30, 2014

Dear Theodore {5 months}

11/23/2014 - Five months in heaven

Dear Theodore,

I can't believe it's almost been half a year since you were born into heaven. This month has been rough. I can't point to one reason exactly. The weather is getting colder - the cold and the dreariness are not good for my psyche in a normal year... and this year is far from normal. The start of the holiday season, which was meant to be so different. Time is just marching along with no regard for the ache in my heart. The world is changing and moving on, holidays and birthdays are happening without you and it's been so hard for me over the past few weeks.

At five months old, Judah had just figured out how to sit up. He was so fat and roly-poly and delightful. I just love this age. We are missing out on the thousand little joys that you would be giving us each day. The precious little giggles, the chubby snuggles, and the cute little things you would be doing. There is grief in every part of our day, because you are absent. Sometimes it's easier for me to see God's hand in our grief... the grace and the mercy and the purposes that I know to be true. Other days it is hard to claw my way out of the depths of missing you, and this month has had many of those days.

I'm a week late writing this, because I just couldn't bring myself to. It's an acknowledgement of the passing of time. With Judah, it was a mixture of joy and a little twinge of sadness that he was growing older each time I wrote an update. Your monthly letters are much more sorrowful - I wish they could be happier for you. I think another reason this month has been so difficult is that you wouldn't be a newborn anymore at five months old - and all I know of you is as a brand new baby. Giving birth to you and pulling your little body up to my chest... and the six short hours that I got to hold you. I never got to see you grow any older. The further we get from your birth, the harder it is to imagine what you would look like now. And oh, that is hard for a momma's heart.

Perhaps another reason this month has been difficult is that I am now ten weeks pregnant with your little sibling. I will write down the whole story soon. This is such a joyous thing, but it comes with plenty of hormones and anxiety. The day we went in for our first ultrasound, I had no idea of the terror that would grip my heart as the tech searched for a little heartbeat. The last ultrasound I had was when they told me you were gone. I grieve for the blessed innocence that I had when I was pregnant with you and Judah. I will never again take for granted the beautiful sound of a heartbeat.

Judah has gone through a cognitive development leap recently, and he is grieving for you on a new level. He grasps what has happened even more deeply and is often sad that you are not here. We are flying to Oregon in a few weeks for Christmas, and the other day he looked at me and asked seriously "When we go on the airplane up in the sky, will we find baby Theodore? And he can come with us?". One of the hardest things as a parent is when you cannot protect your children from things that hurt them. Judah misses you so much, and I wish he didn't have to. He is very protective of baby #3, and often asks "Can this baby come home with us, Mama? Will he play toys with me?". It breaks my heart into a million pieces that he is worried about this new little one at the tender young age of two.

Theodore, we miss you so much. I'm not sure how to celebrate this holiday season without you. I am trying for Judah's sake. We put up our Christmas tree in mid-November to try and bring in some Christmas warmth and cheer. We got a beautiful gold star for the top of the tree for you, my bright star. A dear, sweet lady is making a Christmas stocking for you to match ours. I have read and been warned about the difficulty of the holiday season after loss. I thought I was prepared for it, and that it would be all right. Goodness, I was wrong.

Sweet baby boy, I am so glad you are spared the torment that we feel being separated from you. So grateful that you are in perfect peace. The miracle of Christmas is close to my heart this year. A little baby, sent to save the world from sin. In many ways, I feel that you are our own little miracle, given to us for many reasons. Some we have seen already, and many yet to be revealed. It is helpful to be able to see God's purposes, but it does not make loosing you any easier. In my broken humanity, I would trade it all in a second to have you in my arms.

Theodore Robert, our perfect little one. Happy five months in heaven. Though I know time means nothing there, the passage of time here is significant. Each month I have to release my dreams of you a little more, heal a little more, breathe a little more. We love you so much. We go through this holiday season, and life, as a family of five now. One sweet boy in our arms, one sweet boy in heaven, and one little one cradled inside me.

All our love,

Momma, Papa, Judah, and Baby #3


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Dear Theodore {4 months}

10/23/2014 - 4 months in heaven

Dear Theodore,

This fourth month since losing you has been strange. So busy and full of new and fun things. We are living life fully - busy fall days full of playdates and MOPS and errands and cooking and playing and eating. It's just like I imagined this fall season to be, but... so very opposite.

The busyness of this month has not allowed me to really stop and process things. I can tell when I need to slow down and take some time to reflect and really allow myself to grieve... and this month there have been too many days where I have ignored this feeling. It's not good for me to stuff grief down because it just comes out in other ways. It is hard to find a balance. Perhaps the hardest thing is that it is even necessary that I have to find a balance between involving myself in life and grieving the loss of you. You should be here, part of all the busyness... giving us those moments of joy that instead we are missing out on each day.

I have felt a little dry this month - usually words flow freely and I am able to express myself. I seem to have reached a point in my grief journey where things are hard to express, and I've had to come to accept that. It's the awkward in-between... that will be awkward and in-between until we meet again. I'm no longer in the hazy grief fog that enveloped me for the first couple of months, but the grief is still very much there... because you are very much not here. Life is more clear, and though this sometimes makes the pain sharper, I am also more able to involve myself in things and enjoy them. I'm not sure how to proceed other than to keep walking and trusting that God will lead me down this path between grief and acceptance. It is not a straight path... it's curled and twisted and spiralling. It does not have an end, at least not here on earth.

I have nothing profound to say today. Just that I miss you, my little boy. I ache to hold your chubby little self... to see you smile, to hear you interact with Judah, to nurse you in the middle of the night. I wish I knew how it felt to lug you around in your car seat whilst keeping track of Judah. I wish you could have come to the pumpkin patch and apple picking with us. I know you are living with the fullest joy in heaven... but I still wish you were here with us.

We love you, Theodore. Happy four-months-in-heaven. Every day for you is the greatest celebration of life... knowing that gives me peace.

~ Momma, Papa, and Judah


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Dear Judah {31 months}

Dear Judah,

You are growing up so fast. Every moment has become more precious to me since we lost your little brother. I want to be present with you, which is both easy and hard at the same time. Easy because you are such a joy to be with. Hard because I miss little Theodore and also need time to grieve for him. Although I do not have my two children here on earth... I still have two children, and somehow I must learn to mother them both in very different ways.

I've always been dedicated to writing down your little life on this blog. These are the things I dreamed of writing for Theodore, too... little milestones and funny sayings. It seems all the more important now. And so I will double my efforts to record your precious life alongside my grief.

I want to remember the funny little things that you do, and the hilarious things that you say. I've been trying to take more videos of you so we can go back and listen to your cute little voice and way of talking.

I want to remember...

- Our little backseat driver (thanks for that, Papa!) - "Papa/Mama, drive with two hands!" "It's raining, turn the swish-swishes on!" "Red light, stop! Green light, go!". You are very safety conscious in general - you will tell us to be careful with sharp knives etc. Whenever I take my vitamins you say emphatically "Those medicines are NOT for Judah! Only for Mama" (you are a good listener!). When you climb up on a chair (you usually do not like heights) you say "I have to be berry berry [very very] careful!".

- You love to be outside and help Papa mow the lawn with your little lawnmower, or help him dig/rake with your own miniature tools. You spent a lot of time this summer in your kiddie pool - you are a little water baby. We took you to swim lessons this summer too, which you loved. You have very sensitive eyes to chlorine so we will have to get you some goggles to help you be more comfortable with going under water.

- You got to go to your first VBS this summer while Momma and Nana helped out!

- The way you say specific words.... little - "luh-dull", firetruck - "fiyah-trrrrruck", vacuum - "veck-yoom" (you sound very South African sometimes!), rescue "rec-skyoo". You don't have the "y" sound down very well yet, especially in words with "l's" - words like wheel come out like "wee-lul", squeal is "skwee-lul", tail is "tay-lul" and yellow is "leh-low"... it's kind of adorable. Sandwich - "swam-ich"

- You picked up Nana's proper British sayings like "Shall we... go outside/have lunch/play toys?"

- Your incredible imagination... you make up entire worlds that you play in. Sometimes it's dinosaurs... sometimes they are chasing you, and other times they are your friends and you run around with them. Or the media cupboard that you like to hide in becomes an airplane or a rocket ship and you go on long trips to visit a far-away grandparent or the moon. It also turns into a firetruck and you go around "rec-skyoo-ing" people. You have little imaginary friends who live in our air vents... you talk to them and give them imaginary food and water (although one time I caught you about to put some real food down the air vent in our living room...). Sometimes you get them out of the air vent and you "carry" them around in your hand. Your toy cars and trucks go on epic journeys across the living room floor. You pretend to be a dog, mouse, elephant, cow, lion, kangaroo etc. You make us coffee with your "coffee machine", and we have to "drink" it. And you make bread with your "bread machine", detailing each ingredient - flour, yeast, water, salt etc. You also make us "pancakes" all the time (and ask for them every meal). Your imagination is limitless... we love listening to you talk to yourself over the video monitor when you wake up in the mornings, or when you are going to bed.

- When you are in an imaginary world, you will only respond to your imaginary name. If you are pretending to be a cow and I call you Judah, you say "No mama! I'm not a Judah. I'm a little cow!" ... and I have to call you "little cow" instead... same goes for pretending to be a fire man, dinosaur, Harry (from your dinosaur show) etc.

- Conversation example: "Mama I brought you a chocolate money [chocolate coin]! Here, eat it!"... "Oh yummy, thanks Judah!"... (I put the imaginary chocolate in my mouth and pretend to chew)... "NO Mama! You have to take the peel [wrapper] off first!"... (so I take the imaginary wrapper off the imaginary coin and eat it)... "Wasn't that delicious, Mama?!"... "Yes, thank you Judah!"

- You love to sing songs, and you have quite the repertoire.... Jesus Loves Me, Old MacDonald, Let it Go (sigh), Zacchaeus Was a Wee Little Man, Rolled Away, Deep and Wide, The Wise Man

- The way to talk about and remember Theodore is so precious to us. Sometimes you talk about him when you are lying in bed, and we listen over the monitor. You talk about him when you are playing with your toys. You ask about him when you notice I'm sad. You say things like "Baby brother came out of mama's tummy. He died. He went to heaven to live with Jesus"... "I gave him hugs and kisses! He is so cute! He has little tiny hands and little tiny feet"... "I miss baby Theodore, he come play toys?"... "I go to heaven and play with baby brother? They have firetrucks there! They go mee-maw mee-maw!"... "Mama sad, she miss baby Theodore?". When you weaned back in December at 22 months, I told you the milk was all gone, but that when baby brother was born there would be more milk for him. I expressed/pumped and donated milk for two months after Theodore was born, and you would say "Mama got more milk! It's for baby brother. We give it to him?"... and I would explain to you that Theodore doesn't need it because he is in heaven and instead we were giving it to other little babies who needed it. That seemed to comfort you, but you were still puzzled as to why baby brother wasn't getting his milk. I don't blame you... it's all very puzzling to our human minds that Theodore didn't get to come home with us.

- You have grown up so much in the past two+ months since Theodore went to heaven. I wish a million times to infinity that you could be brothers here on earth, but who knows what God has planned for you through the death of your brother. You have had to grasp things that no two-and-a-half year old should have to even think about. But it has been beautiful... you are learning about Jesus. You are learning about sin and about our Savior. You are learning that this world is not our forever home. Your little brother has given you this gift

- You just LOVE babies and want to touch their little hands and feet, give them hugs and kisses, make them smile and laugh etc. Whenever we see a baby anywhere you get so excited and want to go over and see them. "Mama look at that cute little baby! He's so tiny! His Mama loves him, and his Papa loves him! And they are holding him! I want to go see him. He will laugh at Judah!..." (and so on... the kid talks in paragraphs these days!). I am so glad that we have friends with babies that you can love on and interact with. One day, Lord willing, you will be a wonderful big brother to a sibling here on earth.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Judah William, we are so proud of you. Your bright little mind, your sensitive little soul, and your tender little heart. We love you, oh so much. You are a balm to our empty arms and aching hearts.

~ Momma and Papa


























Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Dear Theodore {3 months}

09/23/2014

My sweet Theodore,

In the earliest days after loosing you, I would cling to the hope that in a few weeks... a few months... maybe the raw pain would subside a little, maybe each minute would not be so painstaking. Those first few days the grief was so enormous, it engulfed my body. All I longed to do was to rock you, but all I could do was to rock with silent sobs. Then came some numbness. Perhaps it was my mind protecting itself. I still could not function in normal life... even the thought of making Judah a sandwich for lunch was too much. I walked around in a daze for a week or two. It was as if I was on an anesthetic to numb the sensation of grief, and it numbed all other sensations as well. I once heard grief explained as a big fiery ball - intense and enormous. The only way to deal with it is to enter into the raw pain of the fire and experience the feelings to their fullest. This is the only way to make the fire ball smaller, to keep it from consuming you. And so in small increments I weaned myself from the anesthetic... I knew I had to walk through my grief, but I could only take it in small doses, one aspect at a time.  And slowly, I came back to life. It was not a life I wanted to come back to. I wanted to come back to life with you. Life as a family of four on earth. The blissful early days of newborness.

It took enormous will power just to get out of bed in the morning. I would do battle with myself... longing to curl up and never face the world, yet knowing I had Judah who needed me and a life to live here on earth. Gradually it became less of a battle to get out of bed, a little less daunting to go out into the world. I don't know how I would have done it without knowing Judah needed me, and my mom there to give me nudges in the right direction (and many cups of tea). And now here we are - three months from your heavenly birthday... living life. I go grocery shopping, try to keep the house in order, try to keep us all fed and healthy. We go to the gym, to playdates, to MOPS, to church. I carry you with me always in my heart. Wherever I am, whatever I'm doing. There will never be a time when I don't.

This life without you, as heartbreaking as it is, carries a whole new meaning for me. I used to be afraid of death, before you. It was so foreign to me. And then, you died inside of me right before you were born. I grew you from a single cell - I was your life force, providing you with everything you needed to grow from a tiny cell to a beautiful 9lb 12oz baby boy. The God-breathed process of creating life is just incredible. Because I was so intergral in your life (and I truly believe that you LIVED from the moment you were conceived), your death wrenched from me a part of my own life. A part of me is now in heaven - you, my son. Three months ago today as I labored and gave birth to you, God's presence was tangible in the room. It felt as though we were on hallowed ground. I was giving birth to a heaven-born baby. And I can no longer live as though this world is my home, which was all too easy to do before you died. I no longer fear death. I long for heaven. And I must live for God's glory while I'm on this earth. This is how it should be, and you gave me this gift, my son. You are living in His very presence, and there is no greater reminder to live for Him than having a part of my heart in heaven.

I don't pretend to understand it at all. There are still days when it is the hardest thing in the world to drag my body out of bed. There are still days that I have to enter into that fiery ball of grief and allow myself to deeply feel the pain in order to heal. And even on the good days, there is always a sadness, a constant sense that you are not here. We have seen such goodness, such love, such blessings already come to us through the loss of you, Theodore. Our marriage and our family life are so much richer and deeper because of you. Never have I valued and appreciated things to the extent I do now. I have more patience, deeper joy, greater faith... and such bright hope. Theodore Robert, "God's shining gift", you have brought so much to our family. What I don't understand, and never will on this earth, is this: God is all powerful - he could have brought these good things, these blessings to us and to others in another way - why did it have to be through the death of you, my precious son? Isaiah 55:8-9 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." His ways are higher... His ways are higher.

It resonates deep within me that you were appointed for a time, my Theodore. Ecclesiastes 3:1-2,4 "There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven... A time to give birth, and a time to die; A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance." You were given to us for a time. The time for your birth and the time for your death were devastatingly intertwined. These are the things for which understanding comes only in the context of eternity with our Savior. Your perfect chubby little body, your long fingers and toes, your perfectly curled little ears... you were completely formed and ready to enter our family. You were absolutely healthy, but for a freak accident - a blood vessel in the placenta coming from you started bleeding and you bled out. But I believe that God appointed your every moment - your life on earth was full in His eyes. You now live the fullest life possible with Him for eternity. And you have enriched my life beyond measure. Everything is different now. Weeping and laughing, mourning and dancing inexplicably woven together... sorrow is deep but joy is deeper. This world is more beautiful, and heaven is breathtaking. Words are more profound... love, joy, peace, and HOPE. We cannot make sense of suffering on this earth. This is our time to abide in love for one another and persevere with joy... knowing full well the time of no more suffering, no more tears, no more pain is coming.

Today, on your three-months-in-heaven birthday, I think back to the day you were born. The solid weight of you, my son. The musky sweet newborn smell. The utterly precious rolls and chub. The feel of you cradled in my arms, held out in front of me, laying up on my shoulder with your legs tucked under and your little bottom sticking out. I wanted to hold you in every way a mama holds her baby, because I knew I would only hold you once. The sight of you in your Papa's big strong arms... arms that longed to fix everything and protect his family... arms that longed to carry you home. The precious meeting of two brothers who would never get to share a room or fight over their toys. The beautiful hours we spent with your perfect little body are forever imprinted in my memory, with a constant longing for more time with you, my Theodore. I cannot help but wonder what you would look like at three months old - the smiles and giggles and coos that you would be giving us.

Lord, help us. Help us live this life You have given us here on earth. Hold Theodore for us - hold him in Your everlasting arms. Help us in our time of grief and give us strength to live with hope until the time of rejoicing - when You will hand us our darling little boy for eternity with You.

Sweet little Theodore. Mama misses you. Papa misses you. Judah misses you. Your big brother includes you in every day life as he plays... "Mama I going in my firetruck now, with Papa and baby Theodore and tubby bear." It warms my heart while simultaneously breaking it. You will always be a part of our life, it will always hurt to miss you and I would not have it any other way.

We love you, precious boy

Mama, Papa, and Judah



We marveled at his perfect little self.

I just adore his squishy chubby little face.




Sunday, August 24, 2014

Dear Theodore {2 months}

08/23/2014

Dear Theodore,

Today is your two-months-in-heaven birthday. I know you are rejoicing and praising Jesus - life is perfect and wonderful for you... what more could a mother want for her child? My greatest prayer and desire for my children will always be that they know Jesus. And you are in His very presence - you know Him better than any of us.

Life is a little harder for us left behind here on earth. We miss you so much. You would be two months old now, smiling and delighting us. I often wonder how you and Judah would have interacted... I imagine him being silly to entertain you and giving you endless hugs and kisses just like he did when I carried you for nine months. Everything I do is a reminder of the absence of you. Every time we go somewhere I feel like we're missing something because you're not with us. Our life is too simple. You're not here... joyfully complicating our lives with another squirmy little one to get ready, another car seat to buckle, a double stroller to lug around. I know that as time goes by, this sharp ache will grow duller. But it will never go away - you are my child and I will miss you until I see you again.

This month we finished putting away all of your baby things. We put a few things away immediately, but the rest took me a while. The house feels too big now - it's supposed to be cluttered with swings and bouncy seats and play mats. I should be tripping over your pack n play when I climb out of bed. But mainly the house feels too big because there's a whole person missing. You.

Two months... my mind cannot grasp the nature of time. On one level I can hardly believe it's only been two months. It feels like a lifetime ago that you were born. A lifetime that we have been living with this grief of missing you. And then again it feels like you were born yesterday... I can still feel the weight of you in my arms. I can still smell your precious baby smell and feel your soft skin. You are in heaven... perfectly whole and happy, but my selfish human mama's heart just wishes you were in my arms. The loss and grief is ours to bear. I am so glad that you do not, and will not ever feel this pain.

We have been so blessed to have your Grandma and your Nana be with us here over the past few months. Your Grandma was here the last few weeks I was pregnant with you and when you were born. I was on bedrest and she kept our home running. Grandma met you and held you, and got us through that first terrible, heartbreaking week. She put together your whole memorial service. It was beautiful. When Grandma left a week after your birth, your Nana arrived the same day. Nana has been here with us and helped us get through things like picking up your ashes, putting away your baby things, your little burial service on your one-month-in-heaven birthday... and just adjusting to life without you. Your Grandma and Nana's time with us was supposed to be helping us welcome you into this world and adjust to our new life as a family of four. Instead they have looked after us and held us together when we were falling to pieces. Nana leaves in a couple of days, and we will have yet another adjustment to make - back to "real" life. Such a different life than we thought we would be living just two months ago.

Theodore Robert... our precious son... oh, how we love you. It is the hardest thing in the world to be a parent to a child in heaven - our hearts long to be there with you but we know we are here on earth for a reason, and so we must stay here. Your big brother Judah has been the light of our lives even more so the past two months. He delights us with his imagination and his antics. He is growing up so fast and we love seeing his personality and his character develop. We are so thankful to have him to hold and love here on earth. Somehow we must find a way to love you from afar. It brings such deeper meaning to Hebrews 13:14 "This world is not our home...". I long for the day in heaven when we get to meet you and learn all about you. And that glorious day of Christ's return, when our whole family will be together again...

Hold him for us, dear Lord. And hold us, too.

We love you, Theodore.

~ Momma, Papa, and Judah




Sunday, July 27, 2014

Theodore Robert's birth story, part 1

Labor, delivery, and meeting our precious son

Theodore Robert Congdon, 9lbs 12oz, 20 inches long, was born straight into Jesus’ arms at 8:46pm on the 23rd of June, 2014. He was absolutely perfect from head to toe - so chubby and squishy and delightful. Oh, how I wish I could have heard him cry lustily as he was born. How I wish I could have laid there with him in my arms, listening to his newborn snuffles as he nursed and smelling his sweet newborn breath. How I wish I could have seen his eyes open and take the world in. I will forever wonder… what color were his eyes? Would he be even chubbier than his big brother was as a baby? What would he have been like at the boisterous age of two and a half like Judah is now? I was so looking forward to watching them grow up as brothers. And Judah was so excited about “baby brother in mama’s tummy”... I almost think he had the closest relationship with Theodore in the womb. He talked to him and kissed him and hugged him constantly throughout my pregnancy. I hurt for his loss. He misses his baby brother and cannot always express himself. He knows something is missing from our lives. We all feel the weight of it...


Theodore will always be a part of our family… I want to write about him and remember him, just like I’ve done with Judah on this blog. Writing is the best way I know to express myself and it helps me to process things. So, I’ll start with the story of his birth. It’s not a story with a happy ending in the worldly sense - our baby did not come home with us. But at the same time, it does have a happy ending - our precious son is in heaven and we will see him again. And even though we only met his earthly body, it was still a joyful meeting. I labored and worked hard to bring him into the world just like we had always planned. We got to marvel over his perfect little self. 

The whole day still seems almost like a dream to me - so surreal and yet also so very REAL. Sometimes it's too much and my mind just cannot comprehend what happened - did we really have a baby who now lives in heaven? Did this really happen to us? More often, though, my mind takes me back to that day vividly and it fills my whole being with sorrow and and with joy. We met our son, and our arms ache for him... sorrow. We met our son, and he is in HEAVEN... joy everlasting. The whole day and night at the birth center, we felt the incredibly tangible presence of God. He was there, in that room with us, carrying us. He provided compassionate, wonderful midwives and nurses to pray with us and grieve with us. He was there when we were broken into a million pieces at the reality of our son's death. He was there when I was laboring in agony. He was there when our beautiful baby boy was placed in our arms. He was there as we marveled over him. And He was there when we had to say goodbye. It was a sacred day.


{I gave a warning at the beginning of Judah’s birth story post, too… this is a birth story so if that kind of thing makes you squeamish, just be aware!}


I went into early labor on Sunday night, the 22nd of June. I had been having prodromal labor for weeks, so I was reluctant to believe I was actually in labor. The contractions never went away though, and I was awake breathing through them for most of the night. I wanted to put off going to the birth center until morning if I could, so that Judah could sleep through the night before we woke him. At 7am on Monday, we headed out to the birth center and our sweet friend Alicia met us there to pick up Judah. I was excited, but subdued at the same time - I wanted so desperately to be in labor and have a baby… but I was still not convinced this was true labor. I was taken back to the triage room and my midwife, Sarah, checked me. I was 4-5cm dilated. Then she looked for the baby’s heartbeat… and she couldn’t find it. After several minutes I was getting a little nervous. She heard cord sounds but never a heartbeat. She decided to move us to the ultrasound to look for his heartbeat. I think at that point, as much denial as I was in, I knew that my sweet baby was gone. His heartbeat had always been strong and easy to find. Thomas said he just knew then too. I started thinking about the last time I felt him move, and a horrible feeling spread through my body when I couldn’t remember exactly… sometime yesterday? During the night I had so many contractions and I thought he was just resting...


As I lay on the table in the ultrasound room, Sarah, Whitney, and then finally Cathy tried to find baby’s heartbeat. I begged God “Please, just let us hear a heartbeat” but the silence was deafening. Eventually Cathy pointed to the screen and said “I’m really sorry - this is your baby’s heart, and it is not beating”. At that moment it was like I left my body. I couldn’t feel anything. Thomas and someone else helped me sit up, and we moved to a triage room. The midwives left us alone for a few minutes, and we just sat there on the bed. I was still numb and in shock - I kept saying “I don’t know what to do”. It truly felt like I was in a dream - a nightmare, just watching this all happen to someone else. I thought to myself “This is not real. I need to wake up, right now. I need to wake up.” I think it was more real to Thomas at this point. I just could not believe that my sweet, lovingly anticipated baby who I had been carrying so close for nine months was actually gone.


Soon the midwives came back in and gently discussed our options with us. Since I was in labor and 4-5cm dilated, I could stay and have the baby at the birth center, or I could go to a hospital and give birth there or have a c-section. I could hardly even think, let alone make a decision, but I knew I wanted to give birth to my baby how I had planned to give birth for the whole pregnancy - a natural childbirth in a peaceful environment. So, we decided to stay at the birth center. We were officially checked in and taken to the birthing room that we had chosen, decorated in soft blues and golds. I don’t think I can even express how surreal these moments felt. It was when we walked into that room, the room in which we were supposed to welcome our baby boy into our lives, that I was hit with the reality of what was going to happen. Our sweet baby boy was not going to come home with us. We would welcome his little body into our arms and then say our goodbyes… my heart shattered and I just sobbed. The midwife, Sarah, sat and cried and prayed with us. We all clung to each other.


We had struggled with finding a name for our sweet baby the entire pregnancy. We were planning on waiting until we met him to decide for sure. As we sat there in the birthing room, devastated, we both immediately just knew what his name would be - Theodore Robert Congdon. It was perfect for him.


We knew the next step was to call our parents and let them know the terrible news - their grandson, our little Theodore Robert, would not live on this earth. Thomas’s mom was visiting family in Oregon so she was the easiest to reach, and she said she would try to get hold of Thomas’s father in South Sudan. We called my mom in Kenya on Skype, and she quickly went to find my dad and tell him. Every phone call we made, the situation became more real. I felt so heavy with sadness, tears just flowed freely. Our parents spread the news to family and friends, and we had people all over the world praying for us throughout the day… and in the weeks to come.


We decided to go outside and walk to help my labor progress, so we went out into the quiet back parking lot amongst the trees and walked… talked… cried… prayed. It was a beautifully cool day for the middle of summer, with hardly any humidity. As time went on and the fact that our sweet baby was gone became more real, we kept thinking of things like… we have to bury our child - who does that at the age of 25? Where will we bury him? All of his baby things at home… how will we face them? How are we going to tell our excited 2 and ½ year old that his little brother, who he already loved so much, was gone? Every morning Judah would climb into bed and snuggle with me and baby brother and say things like “Baby brother is so cute! I love him. He come out now? I want to play toys with him!” while patting my belly... and often during the day he would come up and give baby brother hugs and kisses and talk to him. How do we explain death and heaven to him? How are we supposed to face life now… a life that will always be missing our Theodore, until heaven? It was all so overwhelming and we prayed for grace and strength and wisdom to just take it one step at a time.


After walking for a while, we returned to the little back patio outside the birth center, surrounded by trees. My parents called again on Skype and cried and prayed with us. We all prayed for a fast and easy labor, as it seemed things were moving fairly slowly. God knew what he was doing, though. We went back inside and I kept walking around the room and rocking on the birth ball - my contractions stayed about 5 minutes apart and were very manageable. Time seemed to pass so quickly - every time I looked at the clock I was surprised, it was always later than I had thought. Around midday, Whitney checked me again and I was 5-6 cm dilated.


The birth center had arranged for a doula to come and be with us - Heidi Faith. She has been through her own loss and her whole ministry now helps women going through pregnancy and infant loss. She arrived around midday, and I (once again) burst into tears when she came in and gently took my hands and met me in my grief. Heidi was amazing - we could not have managed without her, and I mean that to the very core of my being. She was the hands and feet of Jesus to us that day. She prayed with us and helped us process what was going to happen as we labored and delivered our son, and helped prepare us for saying goodbye to him. As my labor progressed, she always knew exactly what to do to comfort me and alleviate some of the pain.


We knew we wanted Judah to come back to spend a little time as a family before Theodore arrived, and to try and gently explain to him what was going to happen when his baby brother was born. Alicia brought him to the birth center around 2pm in the afternoon, while my contractions were still very manageable, and we took some family pictures with us all snuggled on the bed. We told Judah that mama was going to have baby brother today, and that he would only be with us for a little bit… and then he was going to go to heaven and live with Jesus. We knew he was already with Jesus, but this felt like the best way to explain it to a 2 year old. We told Judah that he would come back and meet baby Theodore when he was born and he could give him kisses. We snuggled and talked for a bit, and then Judah went back with Alicia. He was having a wonderful time with his little friend Laurel (Alicia’s daughter)... he was excited to go back and play with her. It was such a relief for us to know he was in good hands and that he was having a fun day - we could focus on giving birth to our precious second born son without worrying about our first born.


After Judah left, we tried to get my labor going by walking and rocking on the birth ball some more, but my contractions never gained intensity. I was feeling discouraged, thinking that maybe my body just was not cooperating because of the emotional turmoil we were going through. At 4pm the midwives suggested breaking my water and I agreed, knowing that was what caused my quick labor with Judah. After a quick prayer and some deep calming breathing (because I knew from experience things were about to get much more intense), Whitney broke my water. Instantly the contractions were much more painful - my “cushion” was gone. I labored hard for a couple of hours. I had a birthing ball up on the side of the bed and would stand and lean into it during contractions, with one leg up on the bed. I would do lunges like this through the contractions to manage the pain and to try and get Theodore to move down. Thomas and Heidi took turns doing the hip press - pushing into my hip bones through a contraction, which also helped me manage the pain.


Theodore was not moving down enough to push on my cervix and dilate it the whole way. A stillborn baby does not “help” you give birth like an alive baby does - they do not wiggle and turn or push with their legs, so my body was having to work a lot harder. Whitney had me push through a few contractions to move him down. She suggested we use Cytotec to dilate my cervix the rest of the way - but I was apprehensive. I knew I would have to lay down on my side for the medicine to work on my cervix, and I could barely manage the pain with standing and rocking. If I had to lay still it would be agony. Subconsciously, I think I just was not ready yet - I was not ready for my sweet baby boy to leave my body and for all that would transpire as we met him and said goodbye.


After another hour of extremely painful contractions, I agreed to the Cytotec. Whitney put it in and I laid on my side. Thomas sat behind me, and Heidi reached across the bed so I could pull on her arms through the contractions. There are no words to describe the pain at this point. It felt like my body was being torn in half. The midwives were starting to worry about exhaustion - I had been up most of Sunday night with contractions, and now I had been laboring all day as well. It was close to 8pm. It was all I could do to gasp through the contractions, trying desperately to suck air into my lungs. The contractions were on top of each other, and I remember crying out “Jesus, help me!”... the very next contraction my body started pushing. I recognized the overwhelming urge to push from Judah’s labor and gasped “I’m pushing!” Whitney hurried over and we rearranged the bed. I was scooted over to the side, leaning back on pillows. She had me reach down and grab my feet and pull back on them while I pushed through contractions. When I was in labor with Judah, pushing was such a relief - it hurt much less than working through the contractions before I had the urge to push. With Theodore, the relief was more minimal - there was still a lot of pain.


I think I pushed for half an hour to get Theodore’s head out. It was HARD work and I was exhausted. Judah was completely out in about 10 minutes, so this was a new experience for me. Once again, Theodore was not “helping” me so I was having to do more work. He was also bigger than Judah (who was 8lbs 4oz). Once his head was out, his shoulders became very stuck in my pelvis. Cathy and Whitney had me getting into all different positions - hands and knees, on my side, on my back again… trying to get him out. Cathy had to reach in and pull his shoulders out one by one (painful!). Miraculously I did not tear, not at all, with an almost 10lb baby and all the trouble in getting him out.


Eventually Theodore’s shoulders were out and the rest of him just slid out in one last push - he was immediately laid on my chest… 8:46 pm. The umbilical cord was cut and I delivered the placenta while I stared at my precious baby boy. I was flooded with post-birth hormones and endorphins and I was just so relieved and happy that he was in my arms. He looked so very alive right when he was born, even though he was already with Jesus. I was so happy to hold his little body and love him. He was absolutely perfect and so chubby at 9lbs 12oz. His head had no molding from his passage through the birth canal - it was perfectly round. He was such a big boy - he looked like he was already several weeks old! His toes looked just like Thomas’s, along with his inescapable Congdon nose. His ears were exactly like mine. He had dimpled hands with long and chubby fingers. He had dark hair, just like Judah did when he was born… I think Theodore had more of it, though. I just wanted to hold him and examine every inch of him, memorize all the little rolls and dimples. And that’s just what we did, sometimes through tears, but also with laughter and smiles when we noticed something particularly adorable or reminiscent of Judah or ourselves. We just had a baby, and it was something to rejoice about! And he was so, so perfect. Perfectly formed here on earth, and made perfect in heaven with Jesus.


[To be continued.]


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Dear Theodore {1 month}

Dear Theodore,

Tomorrow will be one month since I went into labor and we went to the birth center, only to discover that your heart had stopped beating. One month since I labored all day to bring your perfect, chubby little body into this world. One month since we held you and loved you with enough love for a lifetime. One month since we said our heart-wrenching goodbyes to you. Tomorrow, instead of celebrating your one-month birthday, we will be laying your ashes to rest in a little family graveside service. Our hearts are broken.

You will always be a part of our family - we will talk about you and love you forever. Your big brother Judah was so excited to meet you. He came and gave you hugs and kisses when you were born, and marveled over your little hands and feet. We told him that you were going to live in heaven with Jesus, and he said "Baby brother come home? Play with toys?"... he had been waiting so long to share them with you. Sometimes he will ask "go in the car to heaven? see baby Theodore?"... and our hearts break to tell him that we can't. We are so thankful that Judah is joyful little two-year-old - he is sad and he misses you, too, but he brings such light and hope to our world that has been darkened by the grief of losing you.

This past month without you has been been a blur of sorrow. We have joy because we know you are safely at home with Jesus - and there is no better place you could possibly be. But oh... how we long for you in our arms, to be here with us as a family of four. The things I had dreamed of - Judah tickling your toes and giving you endless kisses and making you giggle. Your Papa holding your tiny snuggly body in his big strong arms. The little newborn snuffles and grunts. Nursing you and gazing into your little eyes. All the little and big milestones... seeing you smile, roll over, sit up, crawl, walk. Taking a million pictures of you, just like I did with your big brother. Our hearts just ache with the broken dreams.

We don't understand why God chose to take you home before you were born, but we cling to the hope we have in our Jesus. He promises that he works all things together for the good of those who love him. He promises us mercy and grace sufficient. His love and compassions never fail. He promises to be with us and hold us in our grief, even as he is holding you in heaven. He promises to turn our mourning into dancing one day. "Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy" - John 16:22.

We are beyond thankful that you will never suffer on this earth, little Theodore Robert Congdon. You were loved and carried inside me for nine months, and then you fell asleep and woke up in glory. I can only imagine your perfect little face gazing on Jesus. One day we will be there with you again, we will understand God's purposes, and we will sing His praises for eternity.


"When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration,
And there proclaim, My God, how great thou art!"


Until then, we will cherish your memory and hold you in our hearts.

Happy one-month-in-heaven, my sweet baby boy.

We love you and miss you more than words will ever be able to express.

- Momma, Papa, and your big brother Judah






Tuesday, April 29, 2014

life lately {4.29.14}



- Well, we bought a house and moved into it. It's been crazy... I was having lots of contractions, Judah got a terrible stomach bug while we were moving, and our washing machine wasn't working. And still isn't working, 2.5 weeks later. It's been quite the ordeal trying to get it fixed. I got put on bed rest last week until baby is full term (I am 32 weeks)... too many contractions and starting to dilate/efface. We found moisture/water and mold in our basement that the inspector somehow missed. Thomas has had to keep up with a busy work schedule and his ridiculously hard and time-consuming grad school class. Needless to say, we have felt rather overwhelmed. But we have had sweet friends help us with laundry, bring us meals, and even come to stay and unpack our house (thank you, Wright family! We feel so much more at home now). And Grandma (Thomas's mom) is coming in a couple of weeks to stay and help until baby boy is born.

- Despite everything it has entailed, I love our little house. It is just perfect for us right now. It is bright and airy and feels like a home. We don't need the basement living space at the moment, so we can fix the water/mold issue and then just take our time refinishing it (Thomas has already had to rip out most of the finished area of the basement because of the water/mold).

- I've been starting to think more about baby boy and the fact that he will be here oh so soon. Eight weeks or less... (hopefully not too much less). We've been so busy with the move and everything else, it has snuck up on me. I think about how little time I have left with just Judah, and I wonder how he will adapt to being a big brother. I hate that I'm on bedrest and can't do all the fun things I was planning to do with him before baby gets here - swim lessons, playing at the park, his gym class that we had to quit (he asks about it daily), planting a little garden. I think about baby boy and what he will look like and what his personality will be like. I wonder what his name will be (we still haven't figured that out). I worry a little about the labor and delivery. Will it go fast like last time? Will we make it to the birth center in time? Will I be able to handle the pain again? I wonder what our little family of four is going to be like.

- Back to the name thing... we are finding it ridiculously hard to name this little guy. Every name we come across that we like seems to have something about it that gives us second thoughts.

- The nice thing about a second baby is that I don't feel as much pressure to have everything perfect and ready like I did with Judah. Babies just need to be held, loved, nursed, and changed. We have most of what we need from Judah's baby days, and what we don't have... eh, it will all get sorted out!

- I'm behind in posting the 52 Project... I will get caught up eventually. There may be some phone pictures involved this time... I decided to take the pressure off myself and not worry if I don't manage to get a picture of Judah with my DSLR every week.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

17/52

"A portrait of Judah once a week, every week, in 2014"


17/52 - You always ask to be snuggled right next to baby bump so you can give baby brother kisses and hugs and pat and talk to him. You are already such a loving big brother!
(phone picture this week)

[Joining in with Jodi's Project 52]

Saturday, April 19, 2014

16/52

"A portrait of Judah once a week, every week, in 2014"



16/52 - Dancing around the living room in the "new house" among all the boxes. I took a whole series of pictures of you doing this, see below!


[Joining in with Jodi's Project 52]


Most of these are blurry, but they still capture the pure delight and energy as he danced around the room.




his pretend sad face...

taking a break to work on a puzzle

Saturday, April 12, 2014

15/52

"A portrait of Judah once a week, every week, in 2014"


15/52 - Loving "The Tigger Movie" ... sometimes (more often than I should) I pull you into bed and let you watch something on the tablet for a little bit in the mornings, while I try to wake up.
(It's a phone picture this week - the week we moved!)


[Joining in with Jodi's Project 52]

Thursday, April 10, 2014

2 years old

This is basically just a blog post full of all the things I don't want to forget about Judah at 24 months of age :) Along with a few pictures, of course...

 These bath time pictures were taken just a day or two before his birthday. 
I just love them because they are so descriptive of his personality.

















Things he says a lot at the moment:
"No touch the computer/heater/etc.! No touch it!" (he knows what he's not allowed to touch... doesn't always stop him though!)
"Mama get up too!" ... "Mama go downstairs too!"
"Mama sit down here"
"Come on Mama! Let's go!"
"Mama open the eyes please! Put on the glasses!" (when he's trying to wake me up, ha)
.... [Obviously from the above sayings, Mama does not move fast enough for him!]....
"Judah hold it! Hold it the tablet please!" (or anything else he's normally not allowed to hold...)
"Chocolate have some in mouth please?" (a boy after my own heart)
(He sometimes says sentences kind of backwards... with the important word first... "Phone have it please?" or "Food have some please?")
"More cabbage please!" (his "cabbage" actually means "ketchup"... haha, at least it sounds like he eats his vegetables!)
"Ok! All right!"... he says when he falls down. He also will ask his toys if they're ok/all right if they fall etc.
"Solly Mama!" (sorry mama), he says to me if he does something naughty...  or "Solly firetruck/other toy"... if he drops/throws them or is otherwise destructive.
"Judah ride the bicycle. Judah go that way." - he is obsessed with his balance bike that he got for his birthday.
"No like Mama's towel. Take off Mama's towel." - he tells me this whenever I have my wet hair wrapped up in a towel, he really doesn't like it!
"Firetruck go upstairs in bath too?"... he always wants to bring his toys with him for bath time/bedtime.
"Go in mama's car? Go to the work?"... he always asks to go to "the work" because that is where Papa goes everyday :)
"Go to the park? Play with the dump trucks in the dirt?" - his favorite park has a sandpit and dump trucks.
"Sharky have some pancakes with peanut butter and jam too?"... he always wants to share his food with his toys :)
"Play outside! Dig in the dirt! Find the squirmies!"... squirmies = earth worms :) His favorite thing to do now that the weather is getting warmer.
"I LOVE IT!"... he declares about anything and everything that he likes.... milk, water, food, activities, toys... "I LOVE chocolate!" or "I LOVE eggies!" or "I LOVE firetrucks!"
"Judah do it!"/ "I do it!"... yep he's definitely becoming a 2 year old!
"Get Judah! Get me!"... or "Judah get Papa!" - he loves chasing or being chased around the circle of our downstairs.
"I drive Mama's car?"... he asks every time we get in the car. haha.


Bedtime excuses:
"have some water? have some milk?"
"sing songs! sing songs! more songs!"
"more rock-a-bye chair?" (meaning he wants to be rocked and snuggled more)
"pray?" (how are we supposed to say no to that!)
"more kisses?" (the little stinker likes to withhold kisses from me all day, and then whips them out at bedtime... like Thomas says, he's got me wrapped around his little finger...)
"hugs?"
"sleep in mama's bed?"

When he really wants something his sentences go up in pitch and noise level... "Judah have some milk? HAVE SOME MILK? HAVE SOME MILK PLEEEAASEEEE!"

Talking about the baby:
"Hi baby!" while rubbing my belly... "Give baby kisses??"... "Give baby hugs??"
"Baby come out now?"... sorry, not for a while buddy!
"Mama and baby come play with the toys?"... he often includes baby now when he asks me to come play!
Once I told him that the baby was kicking me... he thought for a moment, and then said "Naughty baby! No kick mama!" .... haha! He knows that he's not allowed to kick people so he's trying to instill the same values in baby brother :)
We were going for a walk one day recently, and he asked "baby come out and ride in the stroller?"... :)
He got to hold a friend's newborn recently and now he's always asking for "baby brudder" to come out so he can hold him.

He's started quoting his favorite movies (which are Despicable Me 1 and 2, The Croods, Mater's Tall Tales, Leapfrog Math Adventures to the Moon):
"Lipstick taser!" (DM2)
"Cookie alabata!" (something one of the minions says in DM2)
"not cool! not cool!" (Croods)
"dun dun dah!" ... along with arm gestures (the little sloth guy in the Croods)
"cha cha cha!"... along with dance moves (Mater's Tall Tales)
"what happened?!" (MTT)
"Let's get outta here!" (Leapfrog)

He also is really starting to play make believe:
- The other day he turned his little four-legged stool over and sat in between the legs, and told me "Judah's rocket ship! Go to the moon!" ... and now it's one of his favorite things to play. He does rocket ship sound effects and goes up to the moon and then comes back down and says "Judah back!". I ask him what he did on the moon and he grins and claps and says "Fun on the moon!".
- He does little voices for his stuffed animals and makes them talk and interact. Same with his cars. He was feeding his rubber ducky breakfast in his highchair the other day and asking the ducky "ducky like yummy toast?" and then saying for the ducky "mmmm yummy! more toast"
- He'll pretend that he is an airplane, or a car, or a firetruck, or a rocket ship etc... he will tell me what he is, and run around making the respective noises.
- He loves to sit in boxes/laundry baskets and pretend he's in a boat, and sing "row, row, row your boat..." and then climb out and pretend to splash in the water.
- He'll tell me his piece of toast that he's eating looks like a turtle or an elephant or a rocket ship whatever else he thinks it looks like at that moment.

Starting to answer more when we ask him what he did, or what we're going to do etc... Like if I ask him to tell Papa what we did at gymnastics class, he'll say "played in the balls! go in the dolphin swing! circle time!". Or when I say we're going to playgroup he will immediately start talking about how he's going to "play with the other kids!"

His memory astonishes me. For example, the first time we went to the birth center for an appointment with my midwife, the assistant gave him a little red ball to play with. That was back in... October? Every time we go back (once a month) he still asks for that little red ball even though he only played with it once. Also, whenever I tell him we're going to see my midwife, he says "listen to the baby's heart?"... he knows what's coming!

He is also very observant. For example, we were Skyping with my family and Uncle Matthew was in the background. We were talking away with Nana and Grandad, and Matt yawned in the background. Judah said "Uncle Matthew tired!" :) Even when he is totally absorbed in playing with something or acts like he isn't listening, he IS indeed listening to every word we say and if he hears something interesting (like how Nana made muffins...) he will instantly ask "Judah have some muffins please?!" (and then we have to explain that Nana did indeed make muffins... but Nana is in Kenya and therefore we can't have her muffins because they're on the "other side of the computer"... poor kid).

Other general language development:
- using pronouns more - me, you, I
- better overall sentence structure, getting the words in the right places
- starting to use different tenses correctly - "I go play"... "I went"... "I played"
- uses words to describe how he's feeling etc now: "Judah scared of the dark"... "I no like this sandwich" etc.
- using words like under, over, behind, around, close, far away etc... to describe things. "Judah hiding under the table!"... "Doggy far away" etc
- starting to sing more complete songs - Itsy Bitsy Spider, Row Your Boat, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Jesus Loves Me.

Personality:
He is two years old and therefore has his moments, but his general demeanor/personality is very sweet and gentle around other kids... he will try to hug them and hold their hands and play and laugh and giggle with them. This also means he kind of gets taken advantage of - other kids will grab toys away from him and he usually just looks sad momentarily and then goes to find a different toy. When other kids hit or bite him he just looks shocked. If the other kids' moms are watching and make them say sorry to Judah, Judah will grin and try to hug them - all is immediately forgiven and forgotten. If he does knock another kid down, it's always by accident because he is focused on what he's doing (I always have him say sorry! And remind him to watch where he's going.). If he wants a toy that another kid has, he will usually just follow them around until they put it down, haha. We do talk a lot about "waiting your turn" and he will ask "Judah's turn? Judah's turn?". I always hope and pray that he doesn't pick up any of those aggressive gestures, but somehow learns to stand up for himself in a healthy way! He does get more ornery and terrible-two-ish when he's just at home with us (because we're his parents I guess), but with other people he is usually very sweet.

Still very picky about food and textures. We're working on it. We finished nursing at 22 months old because my milk dried up at the beginning on the 2nd trimester. It was a great way to calm him and comfort him and get him through big transitions/changes, but we're figuring out new ways. There are definitely times when I sigh and wish I could just nurse him, when nothing else is working - when he's sick, or temper tantrumming, or inconsolable etc. Nothing works quite as well as snuggling up and nursing did!

He is SUPER active and full of energy... pretty normal for a 2 year old boy! But he also loves to sit and snuggle and read books. He loves to be outside and is so much happier and sleeps better when we get to play outside. Thank goodness winter is on its way out. He is silly and goofy and loves to "put on a show" and make us laugh!

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Judah William, we are just loving this age! It comes with its issues, as does every stage, but right now you are so talkative and you are developing the funniest little personality. You make us laugh all day long with the things you do and say. We are in awe of how quickly you grasp things. You are so compassionate and loving and gentle, even in the midst of your rough-and-tumble 2 year old boy-ness. We love you so very much!

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